Category Archives: Technology

Problems with the Jeeputer…

Sometime this winter my “Jeeputer” broke, would not boot, wasn’t getting power basically. First I pulled the computer and test booted it on my bench as all the other accessories were fine, I assumed hardware issue.  The PC tested booted right up with my power supply so the next step was to check the PC leads.  There are 3 leads; 12v power, Ground, and 12v ignition on.  The power supply is smart enough to only trigger boot on 12v ignition. The headers on the motherboard connect to the power supply (DC to DC) and trigger a power button action when 12v ignition is sent.  When 12v ignition is cut it waits 30 seconds and triggers the power button again.  I currently have the  power button set to sleep so it’s a fast resume when I start the Jeep back up.  I have a relay feeding the 12v always on power in case I need to hard reboot or if I don’t want the computer on for whatever reason.

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I started by checking the neon power distribution unit I put in to control all of my accessories.  I pulled it out, checked all the connections underneath, and everything looked good.  I put the PDU back and moved on to the switches.  These are LED switches so I know they are getting power, but I moved from 1 spot on the PDU to another (from 1 to 7) to see if there was a break in the switch wire that triggers the relay.  As I moved over to check the power coming from relay 7, I traced the power line to the PC and found the culprit, a bad wrong sized connector…  Lesson learned here, no more connectors and I’ll be checking these connections first next time.

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VM server 2 prep

I have a new VM server coming in soon and preparing the basement for it.  Installing a wall mount rack system and giving the wall a little organization.  Had to prep the wall first as the Landlord installed “walls” to separate storage in the basement but they were quite flimsy.


Added 2 more 2×3’s spaced 2ft apart and screwed in from the back side as well as the top and bottom.


Added my 2×2 sheet of 3/4 ply and mounted the rack and an 8 port gigabit switch to the wall and tied up the minimal wiring for now.


Webserver is now Live!

Time to start adding some of my projects here not that the web server has gone live, next project will be getting my exchange server to 100% including some UCC certs and reverse DNS entries.

Had an interesting time getting the web server working the way I want it, it’s still ugly for now but I needed to fix my uploading issues.

I followed this guide for configuring/installing, and it’s excellent.  There were some issues I ran into after the intial configuration, mostly an upload issue.  after checking numerous posts with similar “HTTP error” problems I ran into one that suggested to change the php.ini configuration and add an entry to the nginx.conf file.  I found 1 site that had both answers in 1 spot.

I am slowly starting to get used to the commands in linux such as vim and nano (I prefer nano)


Virtual Server Phase 2

After running the VM server for a bit, I wanted to add more to it including an exchange server, webserver, vCenter, and Movie database server.  I started with the Movie database server, I am using an app called Ant Movie Catalog to index all my movies, both in digital and analog format.  The server was up in no time, I have the ant movie catalog done about 1/2 way which is mostly digital copies of my movies (much faster than entering the analog discs).  Because the server is now getting to it’s limits with 4 instances running on it I decided to just add the vCenter install to the MDB server, and skip the appliance.  The Exchange server is loaded and started but needs some more time for configuration as well as reverse DNS entries added to stay off any blacklists.


With all these servers on 1 12TB Raid 6, it was getting a little sluggish.  I ended up buying a Chenbro 5 drive bay that fit’s in 3 5 1/4 bays.  It’s a sas backplane which should allow for a much faster array for OS storage.   I picked up a second Perc 6/i (Re-badged LSI MegaRaid 8408E) card for the server to control the array off ebay for $36.  It turns out 2 controllers are acceptable but the server does not like to boot if both BIOS on the cards are enabled.  So I turned off the bios and had no issue booting. I also picked up some longer Wide SAS to SATA cables (Tripp Lite S502-01M – 3.28ft) to clean up the inside a bit.  The second raid controller has a raid 10 on 15k 73gb sas drives purchased for a great price at a local computer recycler/redistributor.  Here’s a shot of the re-organized cabling with both cards and new SAS external drive bay installed.



Virtual server phase 1

I really wanted to get into running some VM’s at home hosted on ESXi.  We are using them now at work and it looks like the future is heading this way.

My previous server is an inexpensive Zotac socket 775 Motherboard with a Dual core, and 2GB of ram running my home network.  It’s a domain controller and file server which has started to have memory issues.  I have a HighPoint RocketRAID 2320 8-Port PCIe card controlling 6 2TB drives in a raid 5 array.  Sporadically I would get emails from the software notifying me of a drive “unplug” and “re-plug” which would trigger a rebuild.  I never backed up the server and without even being on a battery backup, never lost data (still amazed).  So the next step was replacing the hardware with something that could run multiple servers on one physical machine.  I looked at prices for pre-built machines and with a decent amount of stuff laying around opted to build my own pedestal server.  I had a Lian-Li case donated to me because it was “ugly” which seemed like a good place to start.  The case allows for 10 drives without getting creative so it was perfect for my file server.  Next was a Motherbaord/CPU/RAM choice.  I had 1 quad core Xeon E5420 laying around so I opted to buy and additional and find a socket 771 server board to hold them.  I ended up spending about $55 on the motherboard (Intel S5000PSL-SATA), $31 on another CPU, and $93 on 16GB of ECC DDR2 FB (4x4GB).  After the issues I had with the RocketRAID I decided to go a more familiar way with the raid card.  I picked up a Dell perc 6/i with battery for $40 and ordered 2 SAS-SATA cables from work for $14 each (Tripp Lite S502-20N).  I had a DVD drive laying around as well as a 500W (underrated) power supply.  So I assembled the server, installed ESXi and converted my old server to a VM using the live conversion tool, all went very well.

The Jeeputer!

Here is a “bucket list” item for me, I went a little overboard with it.  Total so far comes to about $1850 which includes the Tuffy console.

So, being in IT, and a computer nerd, I have always wanted an in-car PC (of course that is a general term, this is a Jeep after all), and finally I decided to pull the trigger.

Here’s the hardware I decided to go with:
i3-2100 3.1Ghz CPU
Foxconn H67S LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s Mini ITX
4GB DDR3 1333Mhz Crucial RAM
OCZ Agility3 180GB SSD
160w DC-DC power supply
Mini ITX case
Inelmatic 7” Sunlight readable screen, found a good deal on this and was the basis to start the build.
Micro Bluetooth Keyboard
GPS antenna, bluetooth dongle
HD/FM/AM radio tuner
USB wifi
NO CD/DVD drive
Hacked apart Logitech G15 keyboard with custom keys, and LCD (placement to be determined)

Here’s the unit, mostly assembled:


Next was the build plan.

Obviously the screen would go where the head unit is, simple.  But where would the amp/or head unit go.  Obviously the Jeep is lacking in space, and because I had an old alpine with an aux input, I decide to go that route. As far as placement, decided on a Tuffy Full console as it has a location for the radio and based on reviews is twice as functional and spacious as the factory console.

I am a car audio idiot, and had help with the wiring here – my Extended harness:


Console (pre wired for head unit):


Removed factory:


Console installed with head unit:


Now locating the PC, too much money to put under the seat, having no doors often and well there’s always a chance of water.  So I will be hacking apart some of the glovebox to locate in there.

Here’s the mount for the PC, wanted it to be sturdy yet somewhat easily removed if needed.


Me hacking up the dash, will be building a custom metal enclosure for screen that will allow for a removable screen and some water tight storage, possibly a second monitor…


And the system operating, with Centrafuse, next will be topo maps with GPS locations, routes and more!


Holy wires!!!


Direct sunlight shot, still readable (looks better in person than pics). This is easier to read than my iPhone.


Finished product (for now)